Sprawled along the six miles of coastline just over the hills from San Francisco International Airport, the once working-class community of Pacifica has morphed into a haven for well heeled commuters. It’s also a haven for DogTrekkers who relish fresh air, wide-open scenery and thousands of acres of roam-worthy public lands.
A breezy promenade fronts the seawall that protects the walkable enclave of shops, hotels and restaurants at Rockaway Beach. It’s a short drive from there to the municipal pier, where, in winter, early morning sees crowds of town-folk pulling up snare after snare of fat and wriggling Dungeness crabs. Dogs aren’t allowed on the pier, but there’s ample parking in the neighborhood, along with access to a coastal trail that parallels Sharp Park, a San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department property that includes an 82-year-old municipal golf course and a dark-sand beach where dogs romp leash-free at the far end.
Keep walking to access the trail to Mori Point, a jutting headland affording spectacular views up and down the coast. There’s good whale-watching here, too. The heights are accessed by an easy, three-mile trail with lots of resting spots and interpretive signs. If the scenery at the top looks vaguely familiar, it might be because this is where Harold drove his Jaguar off a cliff in the final scene of the 1971 black comedy Harold and Maude. Keep your dog on a leash; you wouldn’t want her going over, too! Mori Point, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), has a colorful history as a bootleggers’ roost during Prohibition years.
While Pacifica has many beaches, the most well loved and well used is a .75-mile crescent of sand at the southern end of the city. One of the most popular beginner surf spots in the Bay Area, it is often referred to as Linda Mar Beach due to its location in front of the Linda Mar subdivision. It’s a state beach managed by the city and, aside from water activities, boasts a dog-friendly (at patio tables) Taco Bell with beach and ocean views.
Got more time? Sweeney Ridge, accessible from Mori Point and several other trailheads, is a GGNRA parcel of ridges and ravines in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Its 1,200-foot summit slopes down to the Pacific on one side and San Francisco Bay on the other. For a moderate, four-mile hike with a 600-foot elevation gain and several interesting historic sites along the way, use the Sneath Lane trailhead.